Tuesday 13 March 2018

Message to Myself

The process of composing music, for me, is a game. Given one or two seed ideas, it then becomes a matter of copying and pasting, starting with something quite simple and then using this to build a piece that has enough twists and turns to become musically interesting and satisfying. It's a minimalist approach as the fragments that I copy and paste become repetitive and layered, perhaps distributed among the different instrument parts in overlapping ways. The game is to make it work as a whole. Even the most simple musical fragment can quickly become uncontrollably complex so, I suppose, the craft is in maintaining the simplicity while adding in the interest.

The history of modern art, from impressionism to contemporary abstractions, is particularly useful for inventing associations with musical ideas. The closest I can get to relating my copy-and-paste method with a visual form is that of the cut-out-and-pasted pictures made by Henri Matisse in his later years. His quite crude juxtapositions of colours and shapes, collaged together are often abstract, sometimes more figurative, sometimes somewhere in between.  Whatever, they are all expressions of an inner artistic force or experience.

I like having a title first.  That seed brings forth musical expression; sucks inner experience into the outside world to become the building blocks dropped into my computer software.  I had always thought of this particular composition process as simple and naive in a childish way - a child could have done it.  But I value composing like this as something not to move on from having learned how to do it, but on which to focus more, to value and to hone.  It makes inventing or purloining titles, then composing, a pleasure; not a chore. All I am doing is playing the game.

If you'd like to listen to one or two samples: billanderton.uk/compositions.html